According to a press release, firefighters from several agencies helped Wind Cave National Park with a 1,037-acre prescribed fire the week of October 16.
The fire bordered the park’s headquarters, which includes the Elk Mountain Campground, and was conducted Sunday and Monday, October 16 and 17, with mop-up operations Tuesday. Firefighters will continue to patrol the fire until it is declared out.
“We are very appreciative of the assistance we received from outside agencies to conduct this fire,” said Park Superintendent Leigh Welling.
“The fire reduced the fuel load and the chance of a catastrophic wildfire in a critical area adjacent to our developed area.”
Attempts to ignite the fire were hampered due to fog and high humidity levels in the forested and grass areas. A sunny and warmer Monday drained the fuels, which led to a successful fire.
Fire Ecologists will be monitoring pre-established areas to assess the efficiency of the fire in the coming years ahead. However, signs suggest that the fire accomplishes many project objectives.
National Park Service employees from Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota, and Buffalo National River in Arkansas assisted with fire operations.
Firefighters from the Bureau of Indian Affairs out of Pine Ridge, South Dakota, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from Crescent Lake, Nebraska, the Black Hills National Forest, and an engine out of Oelrichs, South Dakota, helped with the fire.
As per a press release, objectives for the fire included reducing the fuel load, restoring the balance between forested areas and prairie, and allowing more moisture to seep into the cave, which was located under parts of the burn.
There is still some smoke in the area, and motorist are urged to use caution when driving through the park.
Featured image from the National Park Service.